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When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Your water heater has passed its expected lifespan, should you have it replaced? Or, should you just wait until you don’t have any more hot water?

There can be warning signs other than a lack of hot water when you’ve gone past the life expectancy of your water heater, no matter the type of water heater (electric or gas water heaters).  

Other warning signs your old water heater is on its way out:

  • Muddy or rusty water comes out of the faucet which could mean you need a new anode rod
  • A hissing, cracking, popping or sizzling noise – strange noises in general are not good
  • A leaking pressure-relief valve
  • Leaking water supply pipes
  • Increased sediment in the water
  • Water with a metallic taste to it
  • Water is warm but not hot – could be a bad heating element, or thermostat

The good news is that today’s water heaters require very little servicing. But, as with any household appliance, many repairs can be avoided with routine water heater maintenance. To extend the life of your water heater and hot water tank:

  • Drain the water two times a year in order to remove collected sediment which causes corrosion and makes the unit less efficient. However, use caution when draining the hot water to avoid getting burned.
  • Annually test the unit’s pressure relief valve. Put on thick gloves, and then lift the valve’s handle and let it snap back – if it doesn’t release a burst of water into the overflow drain pipe, then you need to install a new valve.
  • Set the thermostat to 120 degrees. By lowering the temperature, you’re reducing damage to the tank that’s caused by overheating.

If you do all the water heater maintenance you can as a homeowner for your hot water heater, and it doesn’t need water heater repair, then it seems the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or, to be more specific, don’t replace it.

There’s no reason to waste good money on a new water heater if your old one is working just fine. The average lifespan of a water heater is 10 to 15 years, but some can have even longer life expectancy. 

There is one exception: If you want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient model.

Energy Efficient Water Heaters

Upgrading to a new energy efficient hot water heater can lower utility bills, provide better performance and be a sound investment for a homeowner. You may want to replace the older unit sooner rather than later. 

If you’re considering replacing a working water heater, we suggest that you consider the following:

  • Have you been diligent about maintaining the water heater? When units are regularly maintained and flushed annually, they last longer than neglected water heaters.
  • Where is the unit located? If the unit is located on an upper level and there isn’t a drain nearby, it could leak and cause expensive repairs. However, if it’s located in the basement and near a drain, a leak isn’t as much of a concern.
  • How is the water quality in your neighborhood? If you have hard water or poor water quality, you may have sediment buildup, which can shorten the water heater’s lifespan.

If after considering the above factors, you decide to keep your aging, but still operable water heater, you may want to have one of our plumbers perform a full inspection and routine maintenance. This can help avoid issues and the water damage that may result from a leaking storage tank.

An inspection would include ensuring that all of the connections are working, and ensuring that there are no signs of corrosion or leakage in the gas valve, pan and burner chamber. We can also flush cold water through the unit to remove any sediment or debris sitting at the bottom of the tank, this way it can work more efficiently, and we can also offer a quote for a water heater replacement or, ditch the water heater tank and upgrade to a tankless water heater.

Going with a tankless water heater option can bring a new level of performance and utility bill savings. These new units can run on natural gas/propane, or as electric water heaters. When going from a tank water heater to water heating on demand (tankless) you are able to place them in smaller areas than large tank storage water heaters, making the tankless water heater installation a more viable option in some situations. Saving money on energy bills can eventually pay for the upgrade itself, and the new unit is covered by warranty from the manufacturer.

Contact a Kansas City Plumber Today!

Want to have your water heater inspected by a plumbing professional? Contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service appointment. Whether you need your water heater repaired or replaced, we can help you find the most cost-effective alternative at a reasonable price!